Collider test called a 'great milestone of mankind'

Particle beam's first lap around accelerator paves way for upcoming collision experiment

Wednesday's successful test run of a massive particle collider is being called "one of the great engineering milestones of mankind."

On Wednesday morning, just outside of Geneva, Switzerland, scientists shot a particle beam fully around a 17-mile loop in the world's most powerful particle accelerator - the Large Hadron Collider. Twenty years after development of the collider began, a particle beam made the full journey around the accelerator for the first time. It's a forebear to the time when scientists will accelerate two particle beams toward each other at 99.9 percent of the speed of light.

Smashing the beams together will create showers of new particles that should re-create conditions in the universe just moments after its conception, giving scientists the chance to answer one of the world's oldest questions - how was the universe created?

"This is truly one of the great engineering milestones of mankind," said Harvey Newman, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology. "It was characterized as having gone as 'smooth as silk', considering everything that had to work."

Newman told Computerworld that scientists sent one beam around the tube and then sent a beam in the opposite direction - each going one at a time. Each beam made one circle around the accelerator. And they hit 99.999998 percent of the speed of light.

"It's actually very exciting," said Bolek Wyslouch, a professor of physics at MIT who has been working on the collider project for the last seven years. "We were anxiously waiting, with the whole world watching, to see how this worked."

Wyslouch said he's not sure when they'll run the first particle collision experiment, but estimated that it will be closer to days or weeks away rather than months.

"That's really exciting because just a few minutes of [that experiment] will give us a hint of where this is going and confidence that we are on the right track," he added.

Scientists predict that they will be running particle collision experiments for the next 10 to 15 years.

The US$9 billion LHC project, which sits astride the Franco-Swiss border, operates a tunnel buried 50 meters to 150 meters below the ground. The tunnel, or tube, is designed to facilitate and control a head-on collision between two beams of the same kind of particles -- either protons or ions. Traveling through a vacuum comparable to outer space, the beams are guided around the tube by more than 1,000 superconducting magnets.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?